I think our graduates might have learned this already. After the completion of every year, we are getting ready to do it all again. Those who farm and garden already know this truth about life. Once we complete a harvest, we are getting ready to do it again.
It is not about the cycle of life. It is not about the tediousness of life. It is about reaching the goal that is set before us. When we graduate high school or college, we set another goal. We continually strive for that goal. When we accomplish that goal, we set another goal. When we bring in a harvest, we set another goal. When we accomplish that harvest goal, then we set another goal.
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, we already have a goal. We hope to grow up in Christ. It is in pursuing the completion of this goal that we bring in the harvest. It is while we are growing up in Christ that we are bringing in the sheaves. It is while we are growing up in Christ that we tell people about the work God is done in us.
We bring in the harvest. The heifers and calves are sold at market. The vegetables are canned and frozen. The hay is in storage. We then get ready to do it again. The goal of the farmer and the gardener is to provide for the family. The goal of the disciple is to grow up in Christ.
A. We press on (3:12)
1. Paul is saying he has not completely gained Christ
2. He has Christ, but is not completely like Christ
3. Christ has Paul! Christ has us!
4. We are disciples. Jesus did this for us. By faith in Jesus we are saved from our sin. By faith in Jesus we are his disciples. Even though we belong to Jesus, we have yet to fully live like Jesus. So, we press on.
B. Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead (3:13-14)
1. Paul has become a Christian, yet he is not completely like Christ yet
2. All that he had before, Paul forgets
3. He is straining toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus
4. God has taken us from our past. In Christ Jesus we have a life that surpasses our old life. By learning to live in Christ Jesus, we see how God is calling us toward himself. What is the goal toward which we are straining forward?
C. Hold fast to what we have obtained (3:15-16)
1. We have the same mind as those who are mature
2. Christ is mature – look at his mind (2:5-11)
a. Equality with God is not to be exploited
b. Jesus emptied himself, humbling himself
c. Jesus was obedient, even to the point of death on the cross
d. God exalted Jesus (raised him from the dead)
e. Every person will get to bow to Jesus
f. Every person will get to confess Jesus
3. We belong to Christ. Let us live in Christ Jesus.
4. We empty ourselves, humbling ourselves, so we can be like Christ. Christ is exalted as we mature in obedience to Christ. More people see Jesus as we mature in obedience to Christ. If a farmer or gardener wants to produce another harvest, then they reinvest in their farm/garden. The more they reinvest in the farm, the closer they can get to their goal. Christ’s death produced a harvest of faith. As disciples, our submission to God is Christ reinvesting in the harvest. It takes us disciples holding onto Christ Jesus for the harvest to grow. How are we mature in Christ?
D. Watch who we imitate (3:17-19)
1. Be like those who are imitating Christ, like Paul and others
2. The enemies of cross of Christ are pursuing their own desires
a. Their Belly – their god!
b. Their glory – their shame
c. Their goal – earthly things
3. We are warned. If we go along pursuing our own desires, then we become enemies of the cross of Christ. We will destroy ourselves if we pursue our own desires. How then are we to think and act?
E. Our citizenship is in heaven (3:20-21)
1. From heaven, a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, comes to earth!
2. We are humiliated in following Christ, he glorifies us in himself
3. This happens through the power of his resurrection
4. We are disciples of Christ. Christ Jesus lived, died, and rose again so we may live with him for all time. It is our duty to press forward to live like Christ even today.
We bring in the harvest. We then get ready to do it all again. For we want to provide for our family. We bring in the harvest of souls. We then get ready to do it all again. For we want to bring glory to God through Christ Jesus.
We live in Christ. We mature in Christ as we keep the mind that Christ had. We are reinvested in Christ so more people can know the glory of Christ.
We are the church. We have a calling from God to be like Christ. Let us live and die like Christ so another harvest of souls can hear the call from God to be like Christ.